All posts by Aaron Benedict

Good Bye Amazon Associate

You may have noticed that I no longer have a link on the left-hand side to Amazon. That is because I was informed yesterday that Amazon cancelled my Associate account because of being in violation of the Operating Agreement. The reason they gave was very vague and I’m sure exactly what happened. I asked for clarification and said what that gave me the first time was enough of an explanation. I also asked for an appeal and it was denied.

By the terms of the agreement they are in the letter of the law. They are also the 800 lb. gorilla and can do what they how. However I do feel this a bad-faith judgment on their part. I was an Associate for many years and I’ve not once tried to game the system in any way.

I used to praise Amazon for their customer service but I will do so no-more. I may even drop my Prime account when the time comes.

STEM Camp for Girls

This morning my daughter alerted me to something a friend of her’s sent her:

She was completely excited about attending the camp because it is right up her alley, the girl does love her science. I sent an email requesting information about the camp and I got a reply. It turns out that one of the people trying to get the camp off the ground is someone who has expressed interest in attending the seminary I am involved with.  It’s a small world.

I am very impressed that two high school seniors are trying to get this summer camp started. I don’t usually make appeals but I think visiting their Gofundme page and donating a little something is a good thing. If you can it would be great to help them get started.

Holocaust and Immigrants

It is amazing how a few days change things. As I mentioned in a previous post I didn’t vote for our current president, but I didn’t think his election was illegitimate either. As with every president I hoped that he would do a good job running the country but was expecting to be let down. I didn’t think it would happen so fast.
Let’s take a look at a few things that have gone on this past week. Friday was International Holocaust Remembrance Dayand as a matter of course most governments issue a statement about the day mentioning how the Jewish people were singled out for genocide by the Nazi. However the current administration didn’t see fit to mention the Jews in the entire statement1. Here is the full text of the statement and some emphasis added by me:

“It is with a heavy heart and somber mind that we remember and honor the victims, survivors, heroes of the Holocaust. It is impossible to fully fathom the depravity and horror inflicted on innocent people by Nazi terror.
“Yet, we know that in the darkest hours of humanity, light shines the brightest.‎ As we remember those who died, we are deeply grateful to those who risked their lives to save the innocent.
“In the name of the perished, I pledge to do everything in my power throughout my Presidency, and my life, to ensure that the forces of evil never again defeat the powers of good. Together, we will make love and tolerance prevalent throughout the world.”

There were a lot of innocent who were murdered during the Holocaust, around 11,000,000. However, there was only one group that was above 50% and who were singled out as being a problem requiring a “final solution”.

The administration defended their statement by saying there were more than Jews killed during that time. This is a very stupid defense and is taken apart by John Podhoretz at Commentary Magazine his main takeaway is chilling:

It is, rather, the culmination of something—the culmination of decades of ill feeling that seems to center on the idea that the Jews have somehow made unfair “use” of the Holocaust and it should not “belong” to them. Someone in that nascent White House thought it was time to reflect that view through the omission of the specifically Jewish quality of the Holocaust.
Now the question is: Who was it?

Who was it is indeed the question.

Shabbos afternoon I mentioned to my daughter what a gift Shabbos was because we are off the grid and don’t have to deal with what craziness the President has done now. I didn’t know how true those words were. Once Shabbos was over and I got onto to Twitter I saw what the president had done via Executive Order2. This ban on immigrants who are holders of legal visas and green cards is wrong. It is exactly this kind of attitude that didn’t allow Jews into the country who were trying to escape the clutches of the Nazi government3. There is a lot of hyperbole and hysteria going on about it (this is a good article with facts and a right-of-center view and another article which destroys the EO.) but way the administration handled this from the beginning was ham-fisted and wrong. Just the fact they didn’t allow the DHS (I think that is who was supposed to review it) to review and suggest things is the worst kind of management possible. Moreover when the DOJ suggested changing things they were overruled by the Whitehouse. It’s a classic example of an over-reach.

The upshot is that this administration is poorly run and has no idea what it is doing. The opposition is screaming about everything the government does which makes the signal to noise ratio very high. If everything is horrible then nothing is horrible. We need to pick and choose the battles to fight (like this one) otherwise there will be no strength to fight the important battles.


  1. For comparison, here are the statements from President Bush and President Obama
  2. I am not a fan of the Executive Order. Our past two presidents made use of them and we now reap what we have sown. 
  3. Here is just one story. 

I’m going to give an unpopular opinion. I am no fan of Trump but a supposed news like site Buzzfeed shouldn’t be posting news by saying we have no idea if this is true or not, we’ll let you decide. Yes, the details are salacious and everyone is getting a good laugh but if “fake news” is a problem (and I think it is to a degree) then this shouldn’t be the standard of publishing. Moreover, this guy Cohen who was supposed to be in Prague, was never there. He was at USC with his son (this has been confirmed). I know that Trump is the devil and if he says the sky is blue it needs to be rebutted but let’s be fair about what we are doing here.

Just because he has gone and said things with no proof, that does not grant us permission to do so as well. Additionally publishing this stuff allows the ignoring of bigger issues with Trump as president.

Eulogy for Pebble

Yesterday the official news came down that Pebble sold their intellectual property to Fitbit. I got my first smartwatch 4 years ago and it was a Pebble. Even though I moved on to other smartwatches, I still had a soft spot for the company and their products. While not the first smartwatch, Pebble was the first wearable device to take hold in the imagination of people and allowed people to imagine what a smart watch should and could do. For me it allowed me to realize what I needed in a smartwatch. Something to be able to triage notifications and possibly reply to things if a quick, canned reply was needed.

Pebble was a trailblazer. I don’t want to say they were ahead of their time but the were early in the game. Sadly when the mobile OSs like Android and watchOS came about they lost their advantage, especially when it came to iPhones1. I would even say that Pebble’s rise and fall mirror, in some way, that of another third party hardware maker, Palm. Both were tech darlings and crashed when better funded companies got into the market.

Today when you look at your appleWatch or AndroidWear device, just remember the company that got the ball rolling on wearable technology.


  1. Whether or not it was fair for Apple to do this is a matter for debate. Strictly as a business matter it made sense. 

Review of Bloodfeud by Ben Galley

There is nothing like the culmination of a trilogy. As a reader you are always wondering if things will end as you expect them to end, or will there be a twist at the end that will shock you.  In Bloodfeud, the final book of the Scarlet Star Trilogy, the author (Ben Galley) does a good job of managing the readers expectations while making sure there are some surprises at the end of the book. (Here is a review I wrote about the second book. Sadly the review for the first book is MIA)

The location is this book switches to London and only London where Tonmerion begins to execute his plan for revenge against Dizali. We see a lot of growth in both Tonmerion and his partner in crime Calliade as they need to deal with the obstacles they face in getting their revenge.

The twists at the end are good and they were both things I did not expect and in different ways.

I greatly enjoyed this book and although the author was kind enough to give me a review copy of Bloodfeud I went ahead and bought a copy on my own (like I have done with all of his books) because I believe you need to support your independent book authors.

Bye Bye John McLaughlin

I just saw the news on Twitter that John McLaughlin passed away. His show “The McLaughlin Group” was something that ESPN tried to copy with “The Sports Reporters” but were never fully successful.

His show was my first entry into politics and it got me to hear opposing points of view and make up my own mind.

Here is a sample of what the show was like; and yes there was a lot of cross talking that went on.

Here is a parody from SNL:

RIP